Kazakhstan's atomic company Kazatomprom and Moscow-based Rosatom's Uranium One have developed a new method designed for increasing efficiency of wells productivity in uranium in-situ leach (ISL) mining.
The new method has been developed in the framework of implementation of the plan of action for ISL process optimisation, as well as cost reduction.
The approach will cover production wells repair and flow-rates restoration, as well as adding ammonium bifluoride to the conditioning agent.
During this process, porous space will be cleaned and new channels would be created in ore-bearing sediments for leaching solutions flows.
Furthermore, the ISL process allows increasing operating well flow-rates, restoring non-operating wells, in addition to redoubling the overhaul cycle of period wells.
Uranium One chief geotechnical engineer Mikhail Pershin said: “During the wells’ operation, we usually observe a fall in their flow-rate productivity, resulting from salts and clays build-up, and conventional methods for their restoration do not guarantee the desired results.
“We suggested to apply for uranium ISL mining the technology of the wells’ flow-rate increase used in the oil industry.
“As a result, we have a cost-effective technology with no alternative for ‘heavy’ wells flow-rates recovery that should be redrilled in an alternative way.”
Initially, the approach was tested at the Zarechnoye and Kharasan mines. After the testing was completed, the wells’ flow-rate was recovered up to the initial values.
Later on, the new method was used by Kazatomprom, NAC JSC and Uranium One joint mines.